The Residents' Ultimate Box Set (or UBS) is a "box set" collection of the first editions of all releases by The Residents up to 2012, housed in a 28 cubic foot refrigerator.
First announced in December 2012 in a YouTube infomercial starring the group's lead singer Randy Rose, the box set was aimed at the high art market and priced at $100,000. To date, only two Ultimate Box Sets are known to have been produced; one which was donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and another for a wealthy fan in Indiana (who ultimately paid less than 25% of the $100,000).
"The plain and simple truth is that this box set, it's so huge, that it takes a refrigerator to hold it all!" - Randy Rose
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of their debut release, The Residents conceived what may be their most ambitious product ever: The Residents' Ultimate Box Set, a 28 cubic foot refrigerator (labelled with a special "UBS" fridge magnet) containing first editions of every release by The Residents up to that point as well as additional merchandise (including an original eyeball mask, or optional skull).
The UBS was announced via a YouTube infomercial video in December of 2012, featuring The Residents' lead singer Randy Rose in a Santa Claus suit (the same he would later wear during the Wonder of Weird tour) offering the box for sale for $100,000.
The group originally considered delivering the Ultimate Box Set in a "handcart", along with a banquet and special performance for the buyer by The Residents, however this plan ultimately did not come to fruition.
As one might imagine, the $100,000 price tag severely limited sales of the Ultimate Box Set. Many fans assumed it was a joke, or an artistic comment on consumerism. The Cryptic Corporation insisted that the UBS was intended as a legitimate product, aimed towards a high art market.
It was to be limited to only ten copies, with the sets themselves only being created after orders were received for them. In the end, only two sets were produced. One was donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (which included the original "Mr. Brown" eyeball mask), and the other was purchased by a fan in Indiana known as "Tripmonster", whose wife was somehow related to the Eli Lilley pharmaceutical fortune, played drums in a marching band, and who made a $10,000 deposit towards the set. Tripmonster's UBS included the "Mr. Green" mask.
Homer Flynn of The Cryptic Corporation and Don Hardy (director of the documentary film Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents) travelled to Indiana to personally deliver the set, filming the proceedings for a 10 minute short film to accompany the documentary ("a very nice piece", according to Flynn, which remains unreleased and in the possession of Don Hardy). "Tripmonster" had his marching band perform for the short film, which also featured his wife and children. Flynn later said he considered both "Tripmonster" and his wife to be very interesting people and shooting the short film allowed Flynn and Hardy to gain a great deal of insight into the family's lives.
"Tripmonster"'s marriage ultimately came to an end and he claimed that The Residents and the Ultimate Box Set were instrumental in the split. Flynn said that after this, the fan became "very strange", stopped making payments, and became "very abusive" towards Flynn in a series of text messages, after which contact ceased between "Tripmonster" and the Cryptic Corporation. As of December 2020, Flynn had not heard from him in around four or five years. Flynn said at a reading of The Brick-Eaters in August 2018 that "Tripmonster" had paid less than 25% of the total $100,000 value of the Ultimate Box Set.
The Ultimate Box Set contains over one hundred first editions of all The Residents' albums, singles, videos and CD-ROMs, as well as a real eyeball mask (with the option of a skull on a first come, first served basis) and additional merchandise, all housed in a 28 cubic foot, two-door refrigerator.
- The Residents discography
- The Residents videography
- The Residents CD-ROMs
- An eyeball mask (or optional skull)
- Steven Cerio figurines
Announced in the infomercial alongside the Ultimate Box Set was a "Mystery Box", available for a much larger sum of $4,999,999. The Mystery Box was available for purchase at the merchandise stand during the group's Wonder of Weird live tour.
The Mystery Box was never purchased. During a reading of The Brick-Eaters in August 2018, Homer Flynn of The Cryptic Corporation confirmed that the Mystery Box contained the complete publishing rights to all of The Residents' music. He also explained that the Mystery Box had been something of a joke/publicity stunt and that they did not expect anyone to buy it.
- "Only one UBS has sold. And The Residents were ripped off because the guy paid less than 25% of the $100,000. The other was donated to Museum of Modern Art... 8 are still left "in stock" but they won't actually be made until orders come in..." - Frenesi Gates, The Residents Facebook group, August 29th 2018
- Anomany Podcast Episode 67: The Residents
- Post by Randy Rose, Maurice and Me, ca. 2014
- Josh Keppel, "The Residents' $100,000 'Ultimate Box Set' Sold and Delivered", NBC Bay Area News, October 22nd 2013
- "Homer confirmed last night that the $5 million Mystery Box consisted of the publishing rights to all The Residents' music. He also said that the item itself was a bit of a joke/gimmick/marketing tool, and they naturally didn't expect anyone to buy it." - Frenesi Gates, The Residents Facebook group, August 28th 2018